Deborah and George Hart always wanted to retire to the Central Sierra.
The Harts came to Sonora 25 years ago to begin making that transition by opening Dusty’s Den Self Grooming and Pet Supplies, which they claim was the first such business in Tuolumne County when it opened a quarter century ago.
Now the couple say they’re ready for a real retirement and have sold the store to Jen Pastorini, a Mother Lode resident whose grandparents once owned Pastorini’s Longhorn on Highway 49 and Long Barn Lodge on Highway 108.
Last week, the Harts opened up about how they opened Dusty’s Den in October 1997.
“We ran a school for severely emotionally disturbed teenagers in the Bay Area,” Deborah Hart said Friday at Dusty’s Den at 14755 Mono Way in East Sonora. “We have decided to close the school. We knew we were going to retire here.
George Hart’s family had a place in Sugarpine since the 1960s. They used to backpack and camp in the Stanislaus National Forest every spring and summer. The Harts already knew they loved the Central Sierra and Tuolumne County.
“We were too young to retire then, so we decided to do something we love, working with dogs and cats,” Deborah Hart said.
“At that time, there were no personal care businesses in Tuolumne County,” said George Hart. “In fact, we once had a lamb here. We’ve enjoyed our customers and community support for 25 years.
The Harts said they are grateful to local veterinarians, the nonprofit organization Friends of the Animal Community, the Humane Society and Tuolumne County Animal Control. They are also proud of the relationships they have built with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit and the Angels Camp Police Department K-9 Unit over the past decade. Today, Dusty’s Den has over 450 followers on Facebook.
Print copies of The Union Democrat from October 17, 1997 contain a story about the Harts and Dusty’s Den titled “Groom your pet yourself”. There’s a photo of the Harts posing with their golden retriever, Dusty, in one of the tubs in the back of their business.
On Friday, the Harts recreated the image with their golden retriever, Blake, and included Pastorini in the photo.
“What we were looking for when we decided to sell is a continuation of what we’ve been doing here for 25 years,” said Deborah Hart. “Jen came in and said she didn’t want to change anything.”
In the front section of Dusty’s Den, Pastorini will continue to sell Buddy Wash and other pet grooming and cleaning products, pet collars, leashes, pet toys, pet gifts pet food, healthy treats and premium pet food. Pastorini’s dogs, Granite, her malamute, and Hazel, her golden retriever, have already moved to Dusty’s Den. Granite already has a new favorite spot on one of the lower shelves that hold unopened but scented bags of Fromm Dog Food.
Deborah Hart has half a dozen multicolored dog portraits she painted in a special spot behind a customer service counter, above a 2021 Union Democrat Readers Choice Award for ‘Best Pet’ .
Pastorini, who lives in Long Barn, said Friday that his grandparents on his father’s side of his family owned Pastorini’s Longhorn on Highway 49 between Sonora and Columbia, and his grandparents on his mother’s side of the family owned Long Barn Lodge. Dan Pastorini, the former Houston Oilers quarterback and promoter of his namesake seasonings and seasonings, is his uncle.
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